The twenty-sixth entry for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest was revealed to us earlier this afternoon *woop woop*! It comes in the form of “Calm After The Storm”, performed by Ilse DeLange and Waylon under the moniker of “The Common Linnets”, and will be the Dutch contribution to Copenhagen 2014… what do we make of it?
We’ve known Ilse and Waylon would be the singers since last November, and today, after much speculation, we finally got the official studio version of the song:
If you read my (unnecessarily) pessimistic article after the pair were announced as the Dutch representatives [linked above], you’ll know that I wasn’t exactly expecting great things from the Ilse and Waylon – mainly on account of how irritating and irrelevant Waylon himself seemed to be in all his past releases. Ilse, for the record, I always liked.
However, with today’s song presentation, I am happily eating my words. “Calm After The Storm” is, quite frankly, beautiful. I’m truly sorry I ever doubted them, because what they’ve come up with is both unique in the context of this year’s competition, and stunning as a piece of music. It captures the spirit of the country genre, and emulates all the most captivating generic conventions to create what sounds like an incredibly authentic composition – which, for someone like Ilse DeLange who has had twenty years to master her control over the country style, is hardly surprising.
The main thing which swings it for me though, are those amazing harmonies. All along, I kept saying “I hope its more Ilse than Waylon”… but what they’ve done here is create a song which is ALL Ilse. And ALL Waylon. By throwing out the rulebook where Eurovision duets are concerned, they’ve come up with a song where they both sing, together, the whole time. It’s so endearing. I’ve heard some describe it as “dull ” and “boring”… but that’s not how I see it. In keeping with the title, this song is simply calm. The epitome of calm. It’s subdued and thoughtful, it’s a song which draws you in and makes you listen.
I haven’t felt this way about this style of song since “När Jag Blundar”. And you all know how much I adored that. Good sign.
I have personally not *loved* a single Dutch entry since Edislia’s “Hemel En Aarde” back in 1998. 1998. Pretty much everything they’ve sent since then (with the exception of 2003 and 2007) has ranged from “average” to “complete and utter shit” in my estimation, with last year’s “Birds” being what I would describe as the most ABOMINABLE composition ever to be forced upon my eardrums. Anouk’s performance of it in last year’s final remains the one occasion where I have muted a live Eurovision event. I hated it THAT much.
The Netherlands are well and truly back this year, though. This quiet, unassuming, yet unquestionably beautiful number deserves to do spectacularly well. Whether it will or not remains to be seen… Unfortunately, Anouk’s qualification last year seems to eclipse the memory of the preceding nine years of semi-final failure in the minds of many fans, and if there’s one thing that is certain at ESC, it’s that the Netherlands can NEVER be considered a dead cert for qualification, even when they bloody well deserve it.
Firstly, The Common Linnets will be performing in semi-final one: for all that’s billed as the stronger of the two, though, there are still going to be ten qualifiers from a field of sixteen, which – statistically at least – is a good place to start. Secondly, they are going on in the second half: c’est à dire, somewhere between nine and sixteen. Another positive. AAAAAND… can you think of a single other song in semi-final one which sounds ANYTHING like “Calm After The Storm”? Nope. Me neither.
The signs are all looking good so far…
Nadine Glöck from Germany: Not bad, but the first time the Dutch entry isn´t in my Top 5 since years. 7/10. But the secondbest countrysong this year, behind Malta. But I don’t think it will qualify.
Shaun AB from Malta: Personally , I like it But I have a feeling this will be underrated
Semi 1 has some predictable qualifiers Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia & Sweden always seem to qualify, and when they don’t, they usually end up 11th in the semi. Hungary and Montenegro seem strong this year and will definitely get loads of Jury points in my opinion.
I do hope the Netherlands qualify though Anything can happen with this new voting system I guess :’)
Ciaran Tuttiett from the United Kingdom: It’s a “grower” song. Not a instant catchy song at all. It’s a great emotional song, but not enough to win. Mid-Table I think… 5/10
It seems like there’s a general ambivalence towards this Dutch song – many fans seem to enjoy it but not instantly, and as the three above have rightly pointed out, it has the potential to be extremely underrated come May. Is this representative of your own view too? Or do you have a more concrete opinion on The Common Linnet’s contribution to the contest? Whatever your opinion, do feel free to voice it in a comment below!